• A Sudden Light Interior


SuddenLight_hallwayA couple of years ago I did an event at a Northwest bookstore, A Book for all Seasons, in Leavenworth, Washington. After the event, we had a nice dinner; they put me up in the inn above the bookstore. The inn has half a dozen rooms at most, each with a literary theme: The Sherlock Holmes Room, the Secret Garden Room, etc. I was staying in the Sherlock Holmes Room and in the middle of the night, the person staying above me in the Roald Dahl room started stomping around, waking me up. Then he started moving furniture around the room. Dragging the couch this way and that, moving the bed. It was loud—serious redecorating! Eventually I fell asleep.

The next morning, I went down to the bookstore to check out. “How was your stay?” the cheerful clerk asked. “It was good,” I said. “But the person staying upstairs from me was kind of weird. He had some serious insomnia and was rearranging the furniture all night.”

The clerk blanched.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“You were the only one staying in the inn last night,” she said.

I later found out that strange things have happened in the bookstore as well.  Sometimes, books are moved overnight, or certain titles are turned spine-in.  But don’t be afraid to go there; the ghost—if you believe in ghosts—seems fairly benign, and probably is a good reader.

I loved reading scary stories when I was young. But my favorites were never stories with ghosts or evil beings, but those that dealt with supernatural elements in a more subtle way. For instance, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by Ambrose Bierce (also made into a short film), or The Monkey’s Paw, by W.W. Jacobs.

From A Sudden Light

page 31
“There’s a hidden stairway, Trevor, and if you find it and strike a match, you will see an apparition in the sudden flash of light. The ghost of Riddell House.”

page 123.
“But it was there. I could feel it rumbling under the surface of everything we did. Riddell House was no longer dead. The old trees that held up the walls and the roof were stirring. They were waking from a long slumber, and their sap was flowing once again.”

 More about paranormal

  • The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

    The Monkey’s Paw is a supernatural short story by author W. W. Jacobs first published in England in 1902. In the story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey’s paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate.

  • an occurrence at owl-creek-bridgeAn Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

    Set during the American Civil War, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is the story of Peyton Farquhar, a Confederate sympathizer condemned to death by hanging from Owl Creek Bridge. At the beginning of the story, the protagonist stands bound at the bridge’s edge.


  1. Julie Weinbrecht
    Posted November 6, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    We “met” a few years ago when our book club was fortunate enough to interview you by speaker phone and at one of your book signing events. I bet you get this from all the gramma’s!
    I haven’t read A Sudden Light, yet, but this interactive web site excites me, and I will be forwarding it today.

    • Garth Stein
      Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:26 am | Permalink

      Julie, listen to Arlene! She’s a Super Fan!

  2. Arlene Millman
    Posted November 17, 2014 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    Reply To Julie, I read A Sudden Light twice so far, and will be reading it many more times. It keeps getting better with each read. If you think the interactive web site is exciting, wait until you are immersed in this brilliant book. Feels like ambrosia for the soul. Treat yourself to this five generation supernatural tale, in a spectacular setting. Enjoy! Arlene

    • Garth Stein
      Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      Ah, Arlene, you spoil me for wonderful readers like you…

  3. Diane Brunner
    Posted March 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to read A Sudden Light. I actually live in Leavenworth on Eagle Creek Road and have wondered about spirits, hoping we didn’t build on a native burial ground. I know this is presumptuous of me, but I’m looking for representation and saw that Jeff Kleinman is your agent. I’ve submitted to him before, not on this work, but I’m wondering if you think he’d be open to hearing from me again. My website is still under construction, but my novel is complete and this one seems more suited to his list now that I read about yours. Not merely the supernatural element in both but the anguish a family can go through suggests our work shares a common element. The novel is set in a small town in the Cahaba and Black Warrior coal regions of Alabama — near where my own family grew up. The back-story deals with the acquisition of mineral rights for the burgeoning steel industry during post-Civil War reconstruction. Less about historical events, however, and more about the personal fallout that follows, the larger narrative shines a flashlight into unlit corners. A mysterious tin box filled with relic-like mementos is the thread that binds three generations of an American family. Who Can Know the Heart is an unlikely love story. The POV character is the granddaughter and is the sense-making character. Many thanks in advance for a reply. Diane

  4. Wendy
    Posted March 26, 2015 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m just in the middle of A Sudden Light and feel “at home”. I am a native of Olympia, Wa. my family traveled to the Northwest and settled the Grand Mound area in 1852. A lot of my family were involved in logging and my cousin David James worked for the Simpson Logging Company and also wrote for The Seattle Times! My grandfather, John R. James, owned a pole yard in Rochester, Wa. Shelton, Olympia, Aberdeen, Tacoma, Seattle…my stomping grounds! Thank you for this wonderful book! It is so delightful to read such clear writing and what could be better than a mystery?

    Wendy Sorrell, Oly, Wa. A huge Monkey’s Paw fan!

    • Garth Stein
      Posted April 2, 2015 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you are definitely in the heartland of the timber industry! I’m fascinated to hear your family’s history. Thanks for writing!

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  • A Sudden LightSimon & Schuster presents the spellbinding and transcendent new novel by the author of THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
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